COMMENTARY | Comments by “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher , an Ohio congressional candidate, may have been intended shooting as a joke or an attention-getting device for fundraising purposes. Yet the message could be used to inspire a spree shooter, given its violent suggestions.
Recently, there was a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Then, there was a Sikh temple in south Milwaukee, Wis. The other week, there was a housing unit in College Station, Texas. Now, a security guard was wounded by a would-be shooter at the Family Research Council.
These attacks all seem so random. Could they have been predicted? Were there any warning signs?
In the first case, medical professionals tried to alert law enforcement. In the second case, there was documented membership in a hate group. In the third case, family members expressed little surprise that violence would eventually occur. Information about the fourth case is still developing.
One thing that remains clear is that attempts to tone down the hate speech that pervaded before the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and several attendees of her Tucson “meet-and-greet” have not been entirely successful.
In Arizona, the same place as ex-Representative Giffords’ shooting, “Joe the Plumber” told an audience that the government should “put a damn fence on the border going with Mexico and start shooting,” according to Amy Bingham from ABC News.
As if a congressional candidate advocating a spree shooting on a minority group wasn’t scary enough, Bingham also reported Wurzelbacher as saying “I’m not worried about being politically correct. That’s one think that’s really scared us and really hurt us as a country is everyone afraid to open their mouths, to say a little something funny.”
I don’t hear anyone in Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, or Washington laughing about rampage killings in their neighborhoods. What if someone highly impressionable or with mental difficulties acted upon Joe the Plumber’s “joke”?
What’s ironic is that this Ohio politician has spoken about how gun control contributed to the Holocaust, according to the Huffington Post. Imagine elected politicians carry out Joe the Plumber’s suggestion, checking papers to see who goes to free, and who goes up against the wall.
Now that is something which is scarier than Joe the Plumber being a little afraid of suggesting shooting a certain type of people.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.